Rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
147.8k votes 10.4k voters 142.8k views 290 items

List Rules Only individual songwriters of *rock songs* who are still alive. No duos. No bands.

Who is the best songwriter alive today? The musician responsible for the lyrics and music that's the most memorable, significant and lasting in all of rock history, who is still with us today. We're talking, over the course of an entire career, the person who has written the most great songs--the best songwriters of the 21st century. A few things to keep in mind: (1) Songwriting teams are acceptable if they truly worked together (for example, Elton John writing music to Bernie Taupin's lyrics). When possible, as in the case of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, separate them and focus on individual songwriting. (2) LIVING songwriters. Living. (3) I think the ratio of "great songs" to "not good songs" is important to consider. If someone has 2 classic albums of great songs and then 5 albums worth of garbage, that impacts the overall view of the career, no matter how good the original work was. Something to keep in mind.

Add your own selections below and vote up the people you feel are worthy of the title of Greatest Living Rock Songwriter. PLUS, if you have Spotify, you can listen to full songs from each of the listed songwriters on our Ranker playlist!

1
2,805 2,469
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,407 2,470
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Benjamin Dunn added Bob Dylan Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
2,238 1,519
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,237 2,148
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

5
1,307 2,112
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
991 1,682
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Timetraveler55 added Billy Joel Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

7
1,172 1,887
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

8
709 1,034
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
839 1,569
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
922 1,545
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

11
1,081 1,597
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
782 1,348
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

13
660 1,267
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

14
870 1,204
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

15
538 565
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

16
849 1,595
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

17
556 888
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

18
320 109
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

19
632 1,253
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

20
449 468
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

21
454 651
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

22
332 464
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

23
617 935
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

24
649 860
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

25
548 858
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

26
418 624
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

27
442 413
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

28
669 985
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

29
492 574
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

30
228 100
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Mick Jagger Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

31
286 418
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

32
285 344
Bono is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

33
580 766
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

34
398 623
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

35
387 356
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

36
353 509
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

37
652 790
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

38
384 320
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
232 201
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

40
311 369
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

41
252 357
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

42
394 509
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Cat Stevens Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

43
347 338
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

44
261 472
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

45
253 361
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

46
205 151
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

47
232 332
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rod Stewart New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

48
326 373
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
211 331
Don McLean is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don McLean Folk music, Folk rock

50
285 211
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Aerosmith Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music